All last summer and into the fall, the telephone networks have been playing this rousing ad for the iPhone: http://uproxx.com/tv/2014/06/whats-the-deal-with-that-go-you-chicken-fat-go-iphone-commercial-anyway/

I thought the ad was funny – especially the opening that featured a couple of seconds of a dude doing wind sprints on the bed to the shock and surprise of his wife or lover who was just driven from the arms of Morpheus. After a few hundred viewings, I realized the ad was for an app for the iPhone that was designed to promise you fitness at the touch of the screen.

“Yeah … Right,” I thought. “As if this little toy was going to get anyone into shape.”

Then I realized they were actually gunning for my job as a fitness instructor.

They tried to do it before. About a decade ago a fellow named Billy Blank and his Tae Bo program. As soon as the videos came out, my class attendance dropped by about 40%. Gradually people started to return. They had to wait for their knee injuries to heal up and hair over.

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to a radio program on CBC Radio 1 as I was on my way to teach a step class at Kerrisdale Community Centre in Vancouver. The piece featured technology could be used to get into shape. The radio guest said she had lost 50 pounds in the past few months using apps that examined and reported on her physical activity, monitored her caloric intake, and gave her information on nutrition. Further, she said you could take any type of class you want on the Interweb through Youtube.

Apparently some of the apps offer words of encouragement to the exerciser. It has assumed the role of “Coach.” It reminds you when you’ve been sitting too long and it’s time to get your sorry butt moving.

She also spoke about smart clothing that monitors your vitals and reports them to your doctor – as if he or she would be remotely interested in your resting heart rate. I suppose those smart duds could whack you with a Taser jolt if it sensed that you were cheating on your workout.

On writing this piece, I am developing the hunch that I probably don’t have anything to worry about, and that my career is safe. I think that people will soon realize that you don’t need a computer to tell you when you’re sweating.

Then there is human nature. I spent some time looking at some classes on Youtube. Frankly, they’re boring. In fact, they’re purposefully boring. Anyone that wanted to get anything out of it would have to sit and watch, then go to the floor to try it out – unless the exerciser is skilled at writing out choreography. They would more likely fall asleep in front of the screen. There is nothing to make the classes interesting.

If I learned one thing about fitness in the past 25 or so years, it is nothing if not show business. The instructor tells stories and jokes. She or he shows off, and, like a Shakespearean actor, has put in hours rehearsing for every piece of choreography, and most importantly, has learned to talk during sit-ups. They offer both comfort and misery to their participants who show up regularly because misery loves company.

Find that in an app!

There may be some good in all this high tech fitness after all. It may get people who have never been interested in fitness an opportunity to become sufficiently fit to join a class to maintain, or even enhance their fitness levels by coming to my class.

Mike Broderick , a one- time archaeologist, is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor with the Fraser Health Authority in Port Coquitlam where he helps people with mental health disabilities find and keep full or part time employment .

He WAS the Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he found employment for people with physical disabilities, A Supported Employment Coordinator at THEO BC (now the Open Door Group), and a case manager at Community Fisheries Development Centre where he helped people move from the fishing industry to something else because there, “Aint no fish.” This means he is VERY familiar with how a modern day resume should look.

He is a newly retired ambassador with the Vancouver Board of Trade and a former member of the Labour Task Force of the Burnaby Board of Trade He does some work as a field Archaeologist, is a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to Alive Magazine. He is always saying, “If you can’t be fit, you can at least be funny.”

He lives in Port Coquitlam with his spouse Cecelia. You can reach him at home at michael_broderick@telus.net or at 604-464-4105. If you’re looking for a career change, he is the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates.



  1. energywriter Says:

    You can talk during sit-ups? My hero!!
    The rest is so true. I use my pedometer daily, but ignore the other features. At least “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” had Richard Simons to goad us on to better behavior. Just can’t imagine a watch or arm band doing that.

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